Bang for Your Buck PPV Review: Royal Rumble 2015

Triple Threat Match for WWE Championship
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Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

What Nick Wants to Happen: At least 16 German suplexes, with Seth Rollins doing a standing backflip during at least two of them.

What Will Happen: Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat.  Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat. Suplex. Repeat.

Holy crap was this match fantastic. There is, of course, the idea of expectations going into any match, but what allowed this match to go from “pretty good” to “one of the best triple threat matches the company has ever had, including WrestleMania XXX’s main event” was that the expectations for this worked on two different levels the entire time: who was going to win and how they were going to do it. Everyone in this match, including Seth Rollins, was a simple and defensible choice.

Simple, because each of the three performers allowed for a wealth of narratives both for the next thee months and the next pay-per-view, that could easily be constructed like a model home, with necessarily rooms and trap doors added from a template. And defensible, because all three men have proven that they are the main event’s best performers right now.

Seth Rollins was performing somewhere in that Jeff Hardy/Daniel Bryan/HHH zone for most of this match, continuing to establish himself not just a talented performer in the right place at the time right time, but one of the future superstars of this business and at least an outside candidate for future all-timer. In fact, it’s easy to make the argument that some of the disdain for Reigns on a subconscious level — at least from the neckbeard set — seems to come from the juxtaposition with Rollins and Ambrose.

People see where they’ve progressed and expect him to be where they are, unwilling to accept that sometimes starting QBs need time to develop and just because there’s a more talented back up right now doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth they long-term investment. It doesn’t help that Seth Rollins is already totally there in terms of talent, with the reaction to him as a heel reaching the point where he can carry main event feuds. He’s just one or two matches like this away from not just being “a guy who can main event the right show” to “guy who should be main eventing every show” and it’s been a genuine joy to watch him get there.

And John continued to be the Patron Saint of Being Carried to a Great Match. That may seem like, at best, a backhanded compliment, but in the same way that Captain America or Superman do not exactly lend themselves to great individual stories that exist entirely within his/their persons the way that Batman does — e.g., it’s just as much fun to watch Batman solve a mystery as it is to see him fight the Joker — the nature of John Cena’s character requires him to be up against something (whether it be a wall, a beast, or simply impossible odds) to truly get the full force of what his character can do.

In this context, he was absolutely pitch perfect: he bumped like a madman, while pulling out every stop in the John Cena PPV playbook, including a Michinoku driver and rolling Attitude Adjustments to see if he would be able to get the job done, before not factoring in the decision not just because they like mmaking sure he doesn’t take the pin but to articulate that the issues between Cena and Lesnar are almost passe at this point, and the real story is between Rollins and Lesnar.

Then, of course, you have Brock Lesnar, who continues to be league MVP since ending The Streak (and becoming the one in 21-1), managing to look like a hero so unintentionally as to make the entire thing even more effective. What Brock is as a character has been talked about over and over and over gain by everyone: he is a biblical plague masquerading as human being . But as a performer, he’s really come into his own as an All-Time great, first ballot Hall of Famer, who can lead an entire company from a narrative perspective. Despite appearing only between six and twelve times per year, he’s managed to maintain his place not just as the main star of the show — the President Bartlett/Walter white, as it were — and the rightful champion.  It’s hard to imagine him topping this, especially if he ends up actually facing who won the final match of the night.

Ultimately, though, it’s less important that he tops this match than people realize. People will only remember (SPOILER ALERT) Roman Reigns’ first WWE title match at WrestleMania if it’s spectacular or important. If it isn’t, if it ends up being something closer to Batista-Umaga than Batista-HHH, that’s fine, because all that matters for performers like them is the pieces that all of those individual stories — not matter how important they seem at the time — play into the larger context of the narrative they’ve created around themselves. Each of these programs are episodes of a TV show exclusively starring that individual performer or a series of book based on that specific character. And Brock Lesnar has had enough No.1 Best Sellers to last a lifetime, even if they kill his character off unceremoniously in three months.

Match 1.0 (Match of the Year Candidate Bonus – +.2) | PPV 3.0

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